By: Mary Fran Bontempo

To hear an audio version of this post, click the play arrow below.

photo(15)

A snowman smiles at Costco on SEPTEMBER 8th!

Let the games begin.

It’s fall, so of course that means games like football and soccer–my personal nemesis as I’ve been a soccer widow for 32 years and a soccer victim as a girlfriend for four years prior to that. If I never see another black and white dotted ball roll past my sight line for the rest of my life, it’ll be too soon.

But I digress. Because I’m not referring to the legitimate (however ubiquitous and irritating to women everywhere) games of fall. I’m talking about the decorating games.The ones that begin earlier and earlier every year, forcing perfectly sane women into frothing frenzies of garland, twinkling lights, pumpkins, turkeys and all manner of crap that we have to dust around for four months of the year.

I write about this annually. You’d think I’d just accept the insanity by now and move on. Truthfully, I was almost at the point where I could ignore the Christmas trees that began to appear in October. I somehow managed to block them out of my range of vision, allowing holiday finery to pierce my consciousness only after Thanksgiving.

But last Sunday, September 8th, while strolling the aisles of Costco with my husband, I came across a giant, light-up snowman, a light-up Minnie and Mickey dressed in Santa gear and climbing a chimney, rows and rows of wrapping paper, bows, wreaths and lights. Oh, and they were all next to the Halloween pumpkins and witches, which were near the Thanksgiving turkeys.

Really? I mean, it’s September, for heaven’s sake. Do we really need to see a snowman? Philadelphia winters are ugly enough, without a four foot jolly reminder that it’s coming assaulting anyone in the aisle at Costco.

I used to enjoy decorating for the holiday seasons. For a week in October, then one in November, then, okay, three weeks in December, I festooned my home with the appropriate seasonal finery. Some light up pumpkins here, a witch there, a few turkeys, some autumn leaves and then, I’ll admit it, Christmas overload a la the Griswolds.

But my kids were younger, decorating was a family thing and it all amounted to no more than a few weeks, not the months-long marathon foisted upon us these days.

Now, for the most part, no one cares (although my youngest would be the major exception–she adores the holidays and all of the junk that goes along with them), it’s a tremendous amount of work and every decoration I own has seen better days and should be replaced, which ain’t gonna happen.

The idea of replacing any of it is an anathema. The truth is, where any type of decor is concerned, I’ve become a minimalist. Nothing gives me more pleasure lately than getting rid of stuff. All of those stupid collectibles I once coveted? Time for Ebay. The duck decoys my husband once loved? We’re both so over them. Even a picture on the wall is fair game for a trip to Goodwill if I happen to be walking by and it gets on my nerves.

So, I will not be buying any light-up snowmen, at Costco or anywhere else. Mickey and Minnie will have to find another chimney to slide down and anything that twinkles will only make an appearance after turkey day. It’s possible that I’ll give in to a pumpkin or two and some autumn leaves may make an appearance because I like the colors.

But generally, as far as the decorating games go, sub me out, coach. I don’t want to play any more.